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2014-15 Rink Wrap: Joel Ward

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From Alzner to Wilson, we're taking a look at and grading the 2014-15 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2015-16. Next up, Joel Ward.

Clyde Caplan

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version, and a glossary of terms used in this post can be found here; data via NHL.comwar-on-ice.comGeneral Fanager and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Ward card

Ward linemates

Ward usage

Ward's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage (2008-15):

Ward rolling CF

Ward's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Ward HERO

Ward's Past Seven Seasons (via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com; click to enlarge):

Ward HA

Key Stat: Ward had four independent three game point streaks during the 2014-2015 season, two of which occurred during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Interesting Stat: As expected, Ward’s best single offensive performance of the season also occurred in the playoffs, during Game 6 against the Rangers. Ward’s three points (one goal, two assists) was his highest single game output since April 10th, 2014 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Good: Despite turning 34 this season Ward continued his success as a puck possession player and secondary scoring threat, despite typically being cast in a more defensive role. Once the playoffs rolled around, however, Ward became Washington’s primary scoring threat, as his nine points in 14 games lead all Capitals skaters. His goal in Game 7 against the Islanders, the first of the game, got the Capitals off to the start they needed to skate to a 2-1 series clinching victory in sixty minutes. He followed up that performance with the game winning goal in Game 1 against the Rangers thanks to a fabulous Alex Ovechkin pass.

Reunited with Barry Trotz for the first time since the 2010-2011 season afforded Ward some comfort with the team’s new style of play and structure. He averaged .75 points per game through the season’s first month but tailed off during December and January. Ward continued to dominate the board battles on the ice at Verizon Center using his large lower body which helped his linemates control both the puck and play. Ward has skated in every game since the start of the 2013-2014 season, these past two years in Washington the first time the forward has played in all 82 games. He skated in his 500th career NHL content on March 3rd, 2015 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Bad: Ward’s production dropped by fifteen points this season despite skating in the same number of games (five fewer goals and ten fewer assists). During the regular season Ward’s shooting percentage dropped by more than four percentage points, from last year’s career-high 18% (that's what's known as "regression to the mean"). His 7.7% shot success in the playoffs marked a career low for Ward, despite firing more pucks on net than ever before during the second season (2.78 per game).

This season was the final year of Ward’s four-year, $12 million contract and plenty of teams will inquire about Ward’s future plans. Although he has expressed a desire to stay in Washington, DC there will be at least one team willing to outbid the Capitals for Ward’s services (in either dollars or term), and GM Brian MacLellan will need to decide what this team’s maximum offering is.

The Video:

The Vote: Rate Ward below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: What is the maximum (dollars and years) that you'd like to see the Caps offer Ward to return? If he leaves, who fills his role(s)? And if he leaves, was his contract - an admitted overpay at the time - and time in D.C. worth it? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?

Ward
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